Syriac language
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The Syriac language (; syc, / '), also known as Syriac Aramaic (''Syrian Aramaic'', ''Syro-Aramaic'') and Classical Syriac (in its literary and liturgical form), is an
Aramaic Aramaic (Classical Syriac The Syriac language (; syc, ܠܫܢܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ / '), also known as Syriac Aramaic (''Syrian Aramaic'', ''Syro-Aramaic'') and Classical Syriac (in its literary and liturgical form), is an Aramaic Aramai ...
dialect that emerged during the first century AD from a local Aramaic dialect that was spoken in the ancient region of
Osroene Osroene (; grc, Ὀσροηνή / ''Osrhoēnē'', Romanized as ''Osroëne'', or ''Osrhoene'') was an ancient region and state in Upper Mesopotamia. The ''Kingdom of Osroene'', also known as the "Kingdom of Edessa and surrounding regions durin ...

Osroene
, centered in the city of
Edessa and surrounding regions during the Early Christian The history of Christianity concerns the Christianity, Christian religion, Christendom, Christian countries, and the Christian Church, Church with its various Christian denomination, denomin ...
. During the
Early Christian The history of Christianity concerns the Christianity, Christian religion, Christendom, Christian countries, and the Christian Church, Church with its various Christian denomination, denominations, from the Christianity in the 1st century, 1st ...
period, it became the main
literary language A literary language is the form of a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system c ...
of various Aramaic-speaking Christian communities in the historical region of
Ancient Syria The history of Syria covers events which occurred on the territory of the present Syrian Arab Republic and events which occurred in the region of Syria. The present Syrian Arab Republic spans territory which was first unified in the 10th century ...
and throughout the
Near East The Near East ( ar, الشرق الأدنى, al-Sharq al-'Adnā, he, המזרח הקרוב, arc, ܕܢܚܐ ܩܪܒ, fa, خاور نزدیک, Xāvar-e nazdik, tr, Yakın Doğu) is a geographical term which roughly encompasses a transcontinental r ...
. As a
liturgical language A sacred language, "holy language" (in religious context) or liturgical language is any language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language ...
of
Syriac Christianity Syriac Christianity ( syr, ܡܫܝܚܝܘܬܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܬܐ / ''Mšiḥāyuṯā Suryāyṯā''; ar, مسيحية سريانية, ''masīḥiyyat suryāniyya'') represents a distinctive branch of Eastern Christianity Eastern Christianity compris ...

Syriac Christianity
, it gained a prominent role among
Eastern Christian Eastern Christianity comprises Christian traditions and church families that originally developed during classical and late antiquity in Western Asia Western Asia, also West Asia, is the westernmost subregion of Asia. It is entirely a part ...
communities that used both Eastern Syriac and Western Syriac rites. Following the spread of Syriac Christianity, it also became a liturgical language of eastern Christian communities as far as
India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous country, the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest ...
and
China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.4 billion. Covering approximately 9.6& ...
. It flourished from the 4th to the 8th century, and continued to have an important role during the next centuries, but by the end of the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages or medieval period lasted approximately from the 5th to the late 15th centuries, similarly to the Post-classical, Post-classical period of global history. It began with the fall of the Western Roma ...
it was gradually reduced to liturgical use, since the role of
vernacular language A vernacular or vernacular language refers to the language or dialect that is spoken by people that are inhabiting a particular country or region. The vernacular is typically the native language, normally Spoken language, spoken informally rathe ...
among its native speakers was overtaken by several emerging
Neo-Aramaic The Neo-Aramaic or Modern Aramaic languages are varieties of Aramaic Aramaic ( Classical Syriac: ''Arāmāyā''; Old Aramaic: ; Imperial Aramaic: ; square script ) is a language that originated among the Arameans The Arameans (Old Aram ...
dialects. Classical Syriac is written in the
Syriac alphabet The Syriac alphabet ( ) is a writing system primarily used to write the Syriac language since the 1st century AD. It is one of the Semitic languages, Semitic abjads descending from the Aramaic alphabet through the Palmyrene alphabet, and shares s ...
, a derivation of the
Aramaic alphabet Aramaic (Syriac alphabet, Classical Syriac: ''Arāmāyā''; Old Aramaic language, Old Aramaic: ; Aramaic alphabet, Imperial Aramaic: ; Hebrew alphabet, square script ) is a language that originated among the Arameans in the ancient Syria (re ...

Aramaic alphabet
. The language is preserved in a large body of
Syriac literature Syriac literature is literature in the Syriac language. It is a tradition going back to the Late Antiquity. It is strongly associated with Syriac Christianity. Terminology In modern Syriac studies, and also within the wider field of Aramaic ...
, that comprises roughly 90% of the extant Aramaic literature. Along with
Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of 2018; Athens is ...
and
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...
, Syriac became one of the three most important languages of
Early Christianity The history of Christianity concerns the Christianity, Christian religion, Christendom, Christian countries, and the Christian Church, Church with its various Christian denomination, denominations, from the Christianity in the 1st century, 1st ...
. Already from the first and second centuries AD, the inhabitants of the region of
Osroene Osroene (; grc, Ὀσροηνή / ''Osrhoēnē'', Romanized as ''Osroëne'', or ''Osrhoene'') was an ancient region and state in Upper Mesopotamia. The ''Kingdom of Osroene'', also known as the "Kingdom of Edessa and surrounding regions durin ...

Osroene
began to embrace
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major religious groups, world's la ...
, and by the third and fourth centuries, local Edessan Aramaic language became the vehicle of the specific Christian culture that came to be known as the
Syriac Christianity Syriac Christianity ( syr, ܡܫܝܚܝܘܬܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܬܐ / ''Mšiḥāyuṯā Suryāyṯā''; ar, مسيحية سريانية, ''masīḥiyyat suryāniyya'') represents a distinctive branch of Eastern Christianity Eastern Christianity compris ...

Syriac Christianity
. Because of theological differences, Syriac-speaking Christians diverged during the 5th century into the
Church of the East The Church of the East ( syc, , ''ʿĒḏtā d-Maḏenḥā''), also called the Persian Church, East Syrian Church, Babylonian Church, Seleucian Church, Edessan Church, Chaldean Church, or the Nestorian Church, was an Eastern Christian church ...
that followed the
East Syriac Rite The East Syriac Rite or East Syrian Rite, also called the Edessan Rite, Assyrian Rite, Persian Rite, Chaldean Rite, Nestorian Rite, Babylonian Rite or Syro-Oriental Rite, is an Eastern Christian liturgical rite that employs the Liturgy of Addai ...
under the
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...

Persian
rule, and the
Syriac Orthodox Church , native_name_lang = syc , image = Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate 2k18.jpg , imagewidth = , alt = Cathedral of Saint George , caption = Cathedral of Saint George, Damascus, Syria ...
that followed the
West Syriac Rite The West Syriac Rite, also called Syro-Antiochene Rite, is an Eastern Christian liturgical rite that employs the Divine Liturgy of Saint James in the West Syriac dialect, West Syriac dialect. It is practised in the Maronite Church, the Syri ...
under the
Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It surviv ...
rule. As a liturgical language of
Syriac Christianity Syriac Christianity ( syr, ܡܫܝܚܝܘܬܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܬܐ / ''Mšiḥāyuṯā Suryāyṯā''; ar, مسيحية سريانية, ''masīḥiyyat suryāniyya'') represents a distinctive branch of Eastern Christianity Eastern Christianity compris ...

Syriac Christianity
, Classical Syriac language spread throughout
Asia Asia () is a landmass variously described as part of Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict crite ...
as far as the South Indian
Malabar Coast The Malabar Coast is a region of the southwestern shoreline of the mainland Indian subcontinent. Geographically, it comprises the wettest regions of South India, southern India, as the Western Ghats intercept the moisture-laden monsoon rains, e ...

Malabar Coast
, and Eastern China, and became the medium of communication and cultural dissemination for the later
Arabs The Arabs (singular Arab ; singular ar, عَرَبِيٌّ, ISO 233: , Arabic pronunciation: , plural ar, عَرَبٌ, ISO 233: , Arabic pronunciation: ) are an ethnic group mainly inhabiting the Arab world. In modern usage the term refers ...
, and (to a lesser extent) the other peoples of
Parthian
Parthian
and
Sasanian The Sasanian () or Sassanid Empire, officially known as the Empire of Iranians ( Middle Persian: 𐭠𐭩𐭥𐭠𐭭𐭱𐭲𐭥𐭩 '' Ērānshahr''), and called the Neo-Persian Empire by historians, was the last Persian imperial dynasty bef ...

Sasanian
empires. Primarily a
Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian'' derive from the Koi ...
medium of expression, Syriac had a fundamental cultural and literary influence on the development of
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...
, which largely replaced it during the later medieval period. Syriac remains the
sacred language A sacred language, "holy language" (in religious context) or liturgical language is any language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language ...
of
Syriac Christianity Syriac Christianity ( syr, ܡܫܝܚܝܘܬܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܬܐ / ''Mšiḥāyuṯā Suryāyṯā''; ar, مسيحية سريانية, ''masīḥiyyat suryāniyya'') represents a distinctive branch of Eastern Christianity Eastern Christianity compris ...

Syriac Christianity
to this day. It is used as liturgical language of several denominations, like those who follow the
East Syriac Rite The East Syriac Rite or East Syrian Rite, also called the Edessan Rite, Assyrian Rite, Persian Rite, Chaldean Rite, Nestorian Rite, Babylonian Rite or Syro-Oriental Rite, is an Eastern Christian liturgical rite that employs the Liturgy of Addai ...
, including the
Assyrian Church of the East The Assyrian Church of the East ( syc, ܥܕܬܐ ܕܡܕܢܚܐ ܕܐܬܘܖ̈ܝܐ, ʿĒḏtā ḏ-Maḏnḥā ḏ-ʾĀṯūrāyē, ar, كنيسة المشرق الآشورية), officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ( syc ...
, the
Ancient Church of the East The Ancient Church of the East ( syr, ܥܕܬܐ ܥܬܝܩܬܐ ܕܡܕܢܚܐ ''ʿĒdtā ʿAttiqtā ḏMaḏnḥā''; ar, كنيسة المشرق القديمة, ''Kanīsat al-Mašriq al-Qadīma''), officially the Ancient Holy Apostolic Catholic Churc ...
, the
Chaldean Catholic Church , native_name_lang = syc , image = , imagewidth = , alt = , caption = , abbreviation = , type = , main_classification = Eastern Catholic , orientation ...
, the
Syro-Malabar Catholic Church lat, Ecclesia Syrorum-Malabarensium , native_name_lang=, image = St. Thomas' Cross (Chennai, St. Thomas Mount).jpg , caption = The ''Mar Thoma Sliva'' or ''Saint Thomas Cross'', the symbol of the Syro-Malabar Church. ...
, and the
Assyrian Pentecostal Church The Assyrian Pentecostal Church ( syr, ܥܕܬܐ ܕܐܚܘܢܘ̈ܬܐ ܦܢܛܩܘܣܛܝ̈ܐ ܐܬܘܪ̈ܝܐ, ''‘Ittā d-Akhonāwāthā Pēnṭēqosṭāyē Ātūrāyē''; fa, کلیسای پنطیکاستی آشوری), is a Reformed Eastern Chri ...
, and also those who follow the
West Syriac Rite The West Syriac Rite, also called Syro-Antiochene Rite, is an Eastern Christian liturgical rite that employs the Divine Liturgy of Saint James in the West Syriac dialect, West Syriac dialect. It is practised in the Maronite Church, the Syri ...
, including:
Syriac Orthodox Church , native_name_lang = syc , image = Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate 2k18.jpg , imagewidth = , alt = Cathedral of Saint George , caption = Cathedral of Saint George, Damascus, Syria ...
, the
Syriac Catholic Church The Syriac Catholic Church ( syc, ܥܕܬܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܬܐ ܩܬܘܠܝܩܝܬܐ, ʿĪṯo Suryayṯo Qaṯolīqayṯo, ar, الكنيسة السريانية الكاثوليكية), also known as Syriac Catholic Patriarchate of Antioch, is an Eas ...
, the
Maronite Catholic Church The Maronite Church is an Eastern Catholic The Eastern Catholic Churches or Oriental Catholic Churches, also called the Eastern-rite Catholic Churches, Eastern Rite Catholicism, or simply the Eastern Churches and in some historical cases ...
, the
Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church The Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, often shortened to Mar Thoma Church, and known also as the Reformed Syrian ChurchS. N. Sadasivan. A Social History of India'. APH Publishing; 2000. . p. 442. and the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar, ...
, the
Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (MOSC) also known as the Malankara Church and the Indian Orthodox Church, is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church The Oriental Orthodox Churches are a group of Eastern Christian churches adher ...
and the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church. In its contemporary spoken forms, it is known as leshono kthobonoyo () or kthobonoyo.KTHOBONOYO SYRIAC SOME OBSERVATIONS AND REMARKS GEORGE A. KIRAZ Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies, Vol. 10, 113-124


Name

In the
English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading language of international discourse in the 21st centu ...

English language
, the term "Syriac" is used as a linguonym (language name) designating a specific variant of the
Aramaic language Aramaic (Classical Syriac The Syriac language (; syc, ܠܫܢܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ / '), also known as Syriac Aramaic (''Syrian Aramaic'', ''Syro-Aramaic'') and Classical Syriac (in its literary and liturgical form), is an Aramaic Aramai ...
in relation to its regional origin in northeastern parts of
Ancient Syria The history of Syria covers events which occurred on the territory of the present Syrian Arab Republic and events which occurred in the region of Syria. The present Syrian Arab Republic spans territory which was first unified in the 10th century ...
, around
Edessa and surrounding regions during the Early Christian The history of Christianity concerns the Christianity, Christian religion, Christendom, Christian countries, and the Christian Church, Church with its various Christian denomination, denomin ...
, that lay outside of provincial borders of
Roman Syria Roman Syria was an early Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provinciae'') were the administrative regions of Ancient Rome outside Roman Italy that were controlled by the Romans under the Roman Republic and later ...
. Since Aramaic was used throughout the
Near East The Near East ( ar, الشرق الأدنى, al-Sharq al-'Adnā, he, המזרח הקרוב, arc, ܕܢܚܐ ܩܪܒ, fa, خاور نزدیک, Xāvar-e nazdik, tr, Yakın Doğu) is a geographical term which roughly encompasses a transcontinental r ...
, having several variants (
dialects The term dialect (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of th ...
), this specific dialect that originated in northeastern Syria became known under its regional (Syrian/Syriac) designation (''Suryaya''). In English
scholarly literature Academic publishing is the subfield of publishing which distributes academic research and scholarship. Most academic work is published in academic journal articles, books or thesis' form. The part of academic written output that is not formally ...
, the term "Syriac" is preferred over the alternative form "Syrian" since the latter is much more
polysemic Polysemy ( or ; from grc-gre, πολύ-, , "many" and , , "sign") is the capacity for a word or phrase to have multiple meanings, usually related by contiguity of meaning within a semantic field. Polysemy is thus distinct from homonymy—or h ...
and commonly relates to
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-Sūrīyah), is a country in ...

Syria
in general. That distinction is used in English as a
convention Convention may refer to: * Convention (norm), a custom or tradition, a standard of presentation or conduct ** Treaty, an agreement in international law * Convention (meeting), meeting of a (usually large) group of individuals and/or companies in a ...
and does not exist on the ancient
endonymic An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 milli ...
level. Several compound terms like "Syriac Aramaic", "Syrian Aramaic" or "Syro-Aramaic" are also used, thus emphasizing both the Aramaic nature of the language and its Syrian/Syriac regional origin.


Endonyms and exonyms

Early native speakers and writers used several
endonymic An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 milli ...
terms as designations for their language. In addition to common endonym (native name) for the
Aramaic language Aramaic (Classical Syriac The Syriac language (; syc, ܠܫܢܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ / '), also known as Syriac Aramaic (''Syrian Aramaic'', ''Syro-Aramaic'') and Classical Syriac (in its literary and liturgical form), is an Aramaic Aramai ...
in general (''Aramaya''), another endonymic term was also used, designating more specifically the local Edessan dialect, known as ''Urhaya'', a term derived directly from the native Aramaic name for the city of
Edessa and surrounding regions during the Early Christian The history of Christianity concerns the Christianity, Christian religion, Christendom, Christian countries, and the Christian Church, Church with its various Christian denomination, denomin ...
(''Urhay''). Among similar endonymic names with regional connotations, term ''Nahraya'' was also used. It was derived from choronym (regional name) Bet-Nahrain, an Aramaic name for
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the ...

Mesopotamia
in general. Original endonymic (native) designations, for Aramaic in general (''Aramaya''), and Edessan Aramaic in particular (''Urhaya''), were later (starting from the 5th century) accompanied by another term,
exonymic An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) is a common, internal name A name is a term used for identification by an external observer. They can identify a class or category of things, or a single thing, either unique ...
(foreign) in origin: ''Suryaya'' (Syrian/Syriac), adopted under the influence of a long-standing Greek custom of referring to Arameans as ''Syrians''. Among ancient Greeks, term "Syrian language" was used as a common designation for Aramaic language in general, and such usage was also reflected in Aramaic, by subsequent (acquired) use of the term "Suryaya" as the most preferred
synonym A synonym is a word, morpheme A morpheme is the smallest meaningful lexical item in a language. A morpheme is not a word. The difference between a morpheme and a word is that a morpheme bound and free morphemes, sometimes does not stand alone, ...
for "Aramaya" (Aramaic). Practice of interchangeable naming (Aramaya, Urhaya, Nahraya, and Suryaya) persisted for centuries, in common use and also in works of various prominent writers. One of those who used various terms was theologian
Jacob of Edessa Jacob of Edessa (or James of Edessa) ( syr, ܝܥܩܘܒ ܐܘܪܗܝܐ, Ya'qub Urhoy) (c. 640 – 5 June 708) was Bishop of EdessaEarly bishops The following list is based on the records of the ''Chronicle of Edessa'' (to ''c''.540) and the ''Chronic ...
(d. 708), who was referring to the language as "''Syrian or Aramean''" (Suryāyā awkēt Ārāmāyā), and also as ''Urhāyā'', when referring to Edessan Aramaic, or ''Naḥrāyā'' when pointing to the region of Bet-Nahrain (Aramaic term for
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the ...

Mesopotamia
in general). Plurality of terms among native speakers (ārāmāyā, urhāyā, naḥrāyā, and suryāyā) was not reflected in Greek and Latin terminology, that preferred Syrian/Syriac designation, and the same preference was adopted by later scholars, with one important distinction: in western scholarly use, Syrian/Syriac label was subsequently reduced from the original Greek designation for Aramaic language in general to a more specific (narrower) designation for Edessan Aramaic language, that in its literary and liturgical form came to be known as ''Classical Syriac''. That reduction resulted in the creation of a specific field of
Syriac studiesSyriac studies is the study of the Syriac language The Syriac language (; syc, ܠܫܢܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ / '), also known as Syriac Aramaic (''Syrian Aramaic'', ''Syro-Aramaic'') and Classical Syriac (in its literary and liturgical form), is an Aram ...
, within
Aramaic studies Aramaic studies are scientific studies of the Aramaic language Aramaic ( Classical Syriac: ''Arāmāyā''; Old Aramaic: ; Aramaic alphabet, Imperial Aramaic: ; Hebrew alphabet, square script ) is a language that originated among the Arame ...
. Preference of early scholars towards the use of the Syrian/Syriac label was also relied upon its notable use as an alternative designation for Aramaic language in the "''
Cave of Treasures The ''Cave of Treasures'' ( Syriac ''Me`ârath Gazzê'', Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language that first emerged in the 1st to 4th centuries CE.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in col ...
''", long held to be the 4th century work of an authoritative writer and revered Christian saint Ephrem of Edessa (d. 373), who was thus believed to be proponent of various linguistic notions and tendencies expressed in the mentioned work. Since modern scholarly analyses have shown that the work in question was written much later ( 600) by an unknown author, several questions had to be reexamined. In regard to the scope and usage of Syrian/Syriac labels in linguistic terminology, some modern scholars have noted that diversity of Aramaic dialects in the wider historical region of Syria should not be overlooked by improper and unspecific use of Syrian/Syriac labels. Diversity of Aramaic dialects was recorded by Theodoret of Cyrus (d. 466), who accepted Syrian/Syriac labels as common Greek designations for Arameans and their language in general, stating that "''the Osroënians, the Syrians, the people of the Euphrates, the Palestinians, and the Phoenicians all speak Syriac, but with many differences in pronunciation''". Theodoret′s regional (provincial) differentiation of Aramaic dialects included an explicit distinction between the "Syrians" (as Aramaic speakers of Roman Syria, Syria proper, western of Euphrates), and the "Osroenians" as Aramaic speakers of
Osroene Osroene (; grc, Ὀσροηνή / ''Osrhoēnē'', Romanized as ''Osroëne'', or ''Osrhoene'') was an ancient region and state in Upper Mesopotamia. The ''Kingdom of Osroene'', also known as the "Kingdom of Edessa and surrounding regions durin ...

Osroene
(eastern region, centered in
Edessa and surrounding regions during the Early Christian The history of Christianity concerns the Christianity, Christian religion, Christendom, Christian countries, and the Christian Church, Church with its various Christian denomination, denomin ...
), thus showing that dialect of the "Syrians" (Aramaic speakers of proper Syria) was known to be different from that of the "Osroenians" (speakers of Edessan Aramaic). Native (
endonymic An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 milli ...
) use of the term ''Aramaic language'' (Aramaya/Oromoyo) among its speakers has continued throughout the medieval period, as attested by the works of prominent writers, including the Oriental Orthodox Patriarch Michael I of Antioch, Michael of Antioch (d. 1199), but during the course of time exonymic designations based on Syrian/Syriac labels became more common, developing into several dialectal variants (Suryoyo/Suryaya, Sūrayṯ/Sūreṯ, Sūryān).


Wider and narrower meanings

Since the proper dating of the ''
Cave of Treasures The ''Cave of Treasures'' ( Syriac ''Me`ârath Gazzê'', Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language that first emerged in the 1st to 4th centuries CE.Semitic languages: an international handbook / edited by Stefan Weninger; in col ...
'', modern scholars were left with no indications of native Aramaic adoption of Syrian/Syriac labels before the 5th century. In the same time, a growing body of later sources showed that both in Greek, and in native literature, those labels were most commonly used as designations for Aramaic language in general, including its various dialects (both eastern and western), thus challenging the conventional scholarly reduction of the term "Syriac language" to a specific designation for Edessan Aramaic. Such use, that excludes non-Edessan dialects, and particularly those of Western Aramaic language, Western Aramaic provenience, persist as an accepted convention, but in the same time stands in contradiction both with original Greek, and later native (acquired) uses of Syrian/Syriac labels as common designations for
Aramaic language Aramaic (Classical Syriac The Syriac language (; syc, ܠܫܢܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ / '), also known as Syriac Aramaic (''Syrian Aramaic'', ''Syro-Aramaic'') and Classical Syriac (in its literary and liturgical form), is an Aramaic Aramai ...
in general. Those problems were addressed by prominent scholars, including Theodor Nöldeke (d. 1930) who noted on several occasions that term "''Syriac language''" has come to have two distinctive meanings, wider and narrower, with first (historical and wider) serving as a common
synonym A synonym is a word, morpheme A morpheme is the smallest meaningful lexical item in a language. A morpheme is not a word. The difference between a morpheme and a word is that a morpheme bound and free morphemes, sometimes does not stand alone, ...
for Aramaic language in general, while other (conventional and narrower) designating only the Edessan Aramaic, also referred to more specifically as the "''Classical Syriac''". Noting the problem, scholars have tried to resolve the issue by being more consistent in their use of the term "''Classical Syriac''" as a strict and clear scientific designation for the old literary and liturgical language, but the consistency of such use was never achieved within the field. Inconsistent use of "Syrian/Syriac" labels in scholarly literature has led some researchers to raise additional questions, related not only to terminological issues but also to some more fundamental (methodological) problems, that were undermining the integrity of the field. Attempts to resolve those issues were unsuccessful, and in many scholarly works, related to the old literary and liturgical language, reduction of the term "''Classical Syriac''" to "''Syriac''" (only) remained a manner of convenience, even in titles of works, including encyclopedic entries, thus creating a large body of unspecific references, that became a base for the emergence of several new classes of terminological problems at the advent of the informational era. Those problems culminated during the process of international standardization of the terms "''Syriac''" and "''Classical Syriac''" within the ISO 639 and MARC standards, MARC systems. The term "''Classical Syriac''" was accepted in 2007 and codified (ISO code
syc
as a designation for the old literary and liturgical language, thus confirming the proper use of the term. In the same time, within the MARC standard, code syc was accepted as designation for ''Classical Syriac'', but under the name "''Syriac''", while the existing general code syr, that was until then named "''Syriac''", was renamed to "''Syriac, Modern''". Within ISO 639 system, large body of unspecific references related to various linguistic uses of the term "''Syriac''" remained related to the original ISO 639-2 code syr (''Syriac''), but its scope is defined within the ISO 639-3 standard as a macrolanguage that currently includes only some of the Neo-Aramaic languages. Such differences in classification, both terminological and substantial, within systems and between systems (ISO and MARC), led to the creation of several additional problems, that remain unresolved. Within linguistics, mosaic of terminological ambiguities related to Syrian/Syriac labels was additionally enriched by introduction of the term "''Palaeo-Syrian language''" as a variant designation for the ancient Eblaite language from the third millennium BC, that is unrelated to the much later Edessan Aramaic, and its early phases, that were commonly labeled as Old/Proto- or even Paleo/Palaeo-Syrian/Syriac in scholarly literature. Newest addition to the terminological mosaic occurred 2014, when it was proposed, also by a scholar, that one of regional dialects of the Old Aramaic language from the first centuries of the 1st millennium BC should be called "''Central Syrian Aramaic''", thus introducing another ambiguous term, that can be used, in its generic meaning, to any local variant of Aramaic that occurred in central regions of Syria during any period in history. After more than five centuries of
Syriac studiesSyriac studies is the study of the Syriac language The Syriac language (; syc, ܠܫܢܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܐ / '), also known as Syriac Aramaic (''Syrian Aramaic'', ''Syro-Aramaic'') and Classical Syriac (in its literary and liturgical form), is an Aram ...
, that were founded by western scholars by the end of the 15th century, main terminological issues related to the name and classification of the language known as Edessan Aramaic, and also referred to by several other names combined of Syrian/Siriac labels, remain opened and unsolved. Some of those issues have special sociolinguistic and ethnolinguistic significance for the remaining Neo-Aramaic speaking communities. Since the occurrence of major political changes in the
Near East The Near East ( ar, الشرق الأدنى, al-Sharq al-'Adnā, he, המזרח הקרוב, arc, ܕܢܚܐ ܩܪܒ, fa, خاور نزدیک, Xāvar-e nazdik, tr, Yakın Doğu) is a geographical term which roughly encompasses a transcontinental r ...
(2003), those issues have acquired additional complexity, related to legal recognition of the language and its name. In the Constitution of Iraq (Article 4), adopted in 2005, and also in subsequent legislation, term "''Syriac''" ( ar, السريانية / al-suriania) is used as official designation for the language of Neo-Aramaic-speaking communities, thus opening additional questions related to linguistic and cultural identity of those communities. Legal and other practical (educational and informational) aspects of the linguistic self-identification also arose throughout Syriac-speaking diaspora, particularly in European countries (Germany, Sweden, Netherlands).


Geographic distribution

Syriac was the local dialect of Aramaic in
Edessa and surrounding regions during the Early Christian The history of Christianity concerns the Christianity, Christian religion, Christendom, Christian countries, and the Christian Church, Church with its various Christian denomination, denomin ...
, and evolved under the influence of the
Church of the East The Church of the East ( syc, , ''ʿĒḏtā d-Maḏenḥā''), also called the Persian Church, East Syrian Church, Babylonian Church, Seleucian Church, Edessan Church, Chaldean Church, or the Nestorian Church, was an Eastern Christian church ...
and the
Syriac Orthodox Church , native_name_lang = syc , image = Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate 2k18.jpg , imagewidth = , alt = Cathedral of Saint George , caption = Cathedral of Saint George, Damascus, Syria ...
into its current form. Before Arabic became the dominant language, Syriac was a major language among Christian communities in the Middle East, Central Asia and the
Malabar Coast The Malabar Coast is a region of the southwestern shoreline of the mainland Indian subcontinent. Geographically, it comprises the wettest regions of South India, southern India, as the Western Ghats intercept the moisture-laden monsoon rains, e ...

Malabar Coast
in India, and remains so among the Terms for Syriac Christians, Syriac Christians to this day. It has been found as far afield as Hadrian's Wall in Great Britain, with inscriptions written by Aramaic-speaking soldiers of the Roman Empire.


History

History of Syriac language is divided into several successive periods, defined primarily by linguistic, and also by cultural criteria. Some terminological and chronological distinctions exist between different classifications, that were proposed among scholars. * "Old Syriac" (Old-Edessan Aramaic), represents the earliest stage in development of the language, that emerged by the beginning of the first century AD as the main Aramaic dialect in the region of
Osroene Osroene (; grc, Ὀσροηνή / ''Osrhoēnē'', Romanized as ''Osroëne'', or ''Osrhoene'') was an ancient region and state in Upper Mesopotamia. The ''Kingdom of Osroene'', also known as the "Kingdom of Edessa and surrounding regions durin ...

Osroene
, centered in
Edessa and surrounding regions during the Early Christian The history of Christianity concerns the Christianity, Christian religion, Christendom, Christian countries, and the Christian Church, Church with its various Christian denomination, denomin ...
, and continued to develop during the next two or three centuries, gradually gaining wider regional significance. * "Middle Syriac" (Middle-Edessan Aramaic), most commonly known as "Classical Syriac" or "Literary Syriac" ( '), represents the most important period in the history of the language, marked by notable literary, liturgical and cultural development and expansion, from the third to the thirteenth century. The period is further subdivided into three stages: ** Early Classical Syriac (Pre-Classical Syriac), represents the earliest stage in development of Classical Syriac during the third and fourth century, preceding the later linguistic standardization. ** Classical Syriac (in the narrower sense of the term), represents the main, standardized stage in development of Classical Syriac, from the fourth century up to the eighth century. ** Late Classical Syriac (Post-Classical Syriac), represents the later, somewhat declining stage in development of Classical Syriac, from the eighth century up to the twelfth or thirteenth century. * "Modern Syriac" (Neo-Syriac Aramaic) represents modern Neo-Aramaic languages. Neo-Syriac languages did not develop directly from Classical Syriac, but rather from closely related dialects belonging to the same branch of Aramaic. Those dialects have long co-existed with Classical Syriac as a liturgical and literary language, and were significantly influenced by it during the late medieval and early modern period. Modern Syriac is divided into: ** Modern Eastern Syriac (Northeastern Neo-Aramaic), including primarily Assyrian Neo-Aramaic and Chaldean Neo-Aramaic. The term is usually not used in reference to Neo-Mandaic, another variety of Eastern Aramaic spoken by the Mandaeans. ** Modern Western Syriac (Central Neo-Aramaic), including (Turoyo language, Turoyo and Mlahsô language, Mlahsô).


Origins

During the first three centuries of the Common Era, a local Aramaic dialect that was spoken in the Kingdom of Osroene, centered in
Edessa and surrounding regions during the Early Christian The history of Christianity concerns the Christianity, Christian religion, Christendom, Christian countries, and the Christian Church, Church with its various Christian denomination, denomin ...
, eastern of Euphrates, started to gain prominence and regional significance. There are about eighty extant early inscriptions, written in Old-Edessan Aramaic, dated to the first three centuries AD, with the earliest inscription being dated to the 6th year AD, and the earliest parchment to 243 AD. All of these early examples of the language are non-Christian. As a language of public life and administration in the region of Osroene, Edessan Aramaic was gradually given a relatively coherent form, style and grammar that is lacking in other Aramaic dialects of the same period. Since Old-Edessan Aramaic later developed into Classical Syriac, it was retroactively labeled (by western scholars) as "Old Syrian/Syriac" or "Proto-Syrian/Syriac", although the linguistic homeland of the language (region of Osroene) was never part of contemporary (Roman) Roman Syria, Syria.


Literary Syriac

In the 3rd century, churches in
Edessa and surrounding regions during the Early Christian The history of Christianity concerns the Christianity, Christian religion, Christendom, Christian countries, and the Christian Church, Church with its various Christian denomination, denomin ...
began to use local Aramaic dialect as the language of worship. Early literary efforts were focused on creation of an authoritative Aramaic translation of the Bible, the Peshitta ( ). At the same time, Ephrem the Syrian was producing the most treasured collection of poetry and theology in the Edessan Aramaic language, that later became known as Syriac. In 489, many Syriac-speaking Christians living in the eastern reaches of the Roman Empire fled to the Sasanian Empire to escape persecution and growing animosity with Greek-speaking Christians. The Christological differences with the Church of the East led to the bitter Nestorian Schism in the Syriac-speaking world. As a result, Syriac developed distinctive western and eastern varieties. Although remaining a single language with a high level of comprehension between the varieties, the two employ distinctive variations in pronunciation and writing system, and, to a lesser degree, in vocabulary. The Syriac language later split into a western variety, used mainly by the
Syriac Orthodox Church , native_name_lang = syc , image = Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate 2k18.jpg , imagewidth = , alt = Cathedral of Saint George , caption = Cathedral of Saint George, Damascus, Syria ...
in upper Mesopotamia and Syria proper, and an eastern variety used mainly by the
Church of the East The Church of the East ( syc, , ''ʿĒḏtā d-Maḏenḥā''), also called the Persian Church, East Syrian Church, Babylonian Church, Seleucian Church, Edessan Church, Chaldean Church, or the Nestorian Church, was an Eastern Christian church ...
in central and northeastern Mesopotamia. Religious divisions were also reflected in linguistic differences between the West Syriac Rite, Western Syriac Rite and the East Syriac Rite, Eastern Syriac Rite. During the 5th and the 6th century, Syriac reached its height as the lingua franca of
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia ( grc, Μεσοποταμία ''Mesopotamíā''; ar, بِلَاد ٱلرَّافِدَيْن ; syc, ܐܪܡ ܢܗܪ̈ܝܢ, or , ) is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in the ...

Mesopotamia
and surrounding regions. It existed in literary (liturgical) form, as well as in vernacular forms, as the native language of Syriac-speaking populations. Following the Arab conquest in the 7th century, vernacular forms of Syriac were gradually replaced during the next centuries by the advancing Arabic, Arabic language. Having an Aramaic (Syriac) substratum, the regional Arabic dialect (Mesopotamian Arabic) developed under the strong influence of local Aramaic (Syriac) dialects, sharing significant similarities in language structure, as well as having evident and stark influences from previous (ancient) languages of the region. Syriac-influenced Arabic dialects developed among Iraqi Arabs, Iraqi Muslims, as well as Christianity in Iraq, Iraqi Christians, most of whom descend from native Syriac speakers. Western Syriac is the official language of the
West Syriac Rite The West Syriac Rite, also called Syro-Antiochene Rite, is an Eastern Christian liturgical rite that employs the Divine Liturgy of Saint James in the West Syriac dialect, West Syriac dialect. It is practised in the Maronite Church, the Syri ...
, practiced by the
Syriac Orthodox Church , native_name_lang = syc , image = Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate 2k18.jpg , imagewidth = , alt = Cathedral of Saint George , caption = Cathedral of Saint George, Damascus, Syria ...
, the
Syriac Catholic Church The Syriac Catholic Church ( syc, ܥܕܬܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܬܐ ܩܬܘܠܝܩܝܬܐ, ʿĪṯo Suryayṯo Qaṯolīqayṯo, ar, الكنيسة السريانية الكاثوليكية), also known as Syriac Catholic Patriarchate of Antioch, is an Eas ...
, the
Maronite Catholic Church The Maronite Church is an Eastern Catholic The Eastern Catholic Churches or Oriental Catholic Churches, also called the Eastern-rite Catholic Churches, Eastern Rite Catholicism, or simply the Eastern Churches and in some historical cases ...
, the
Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (MOSC) also known as the Malankara Church and the Indian Orthodox Church, is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church The Oriental Orthodox Churches are a group of Eastern Christian churches adher ...
, the Malabar Independent Syrian Church, the
Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church The Malankara Mar Thoma Syrian Church, often shortened to Mar Thoma Church, and known also as the Reformed Syrian ChurchS. N. Sadasivan. A Social History of India'. APH Publishing; 2000. . p. 442. and the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar, ...
and the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church. Eastern Syriac is the liturgical language of the
East Syriac Rite The East Syriac Rite or East Syrian Rite, also called the Edessan Rite, Assyrian Rite, Persian Rite, Chaldean Rite, Nestorian Rite, Babylonian Rite or Syro-Oriental Rite, is an Eastern Christian liturgical rite that employs the Liturgy of Addai ...
, practised in modern times by the ethnic Assyrian followers of the
Assyrian Church of the East The Assyrian Church of the East ( syc, ܥܕܬܐ ܕܡܕܢܚܐ ܕܐܬܘܖ̈ܝܐ, ʿĒḏtā ḏ-Maḏnḥā ḏ-ʾĀṯūrāyē, ar, كنيسة المشرق الآشورية), officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ( syc ...
, the
Assyrian Pentecostal Church The Assyrian Pentecostal Church ( syr, ܥܕܬܐ ܕܐܚܘܢܘ̈ܬܐ ܦܢܛܩܘܣܛܝ̈ܐ ܐܬܘܪ̈ܝܐ, ''‘Ittā d-Akhonāwāthā Pēnṭēqosṭāyē Ātūrāyē''; fa, کلیسای پنطیکاستی آشوری), is a Reformed Eastern Chri ...
, the
Ancient Church of the East The Ancient Church of the East ( syr, ܥܕܬܐ ܥܬܝܩܬܐ ܕܡܕܢܚܐ ''ʿĒdtā ʿAttiqtā ḏMaḏnḥā''; ar, كنيسة المشرق القديمة, ''Kanīsat al-Mašriq al-Qadīma''), officially the Ancient Holy Apostolic Catholic Churc ...
, the
Chaldean Catholic Church , native_name_lang = syc , image = , imagewidth = , alt = , caption = , abbreviation = , type = , main_classification = Eastern Catholic , orientation ...
, as well as the
Syro-Malabar Catholic Church lat, Ecclesia Syrorum-Malabarensium , native_name_lang=, image = St. Thomas' Cross (Chennai, St. Thomas Mount).jpg , caption = The ''Mar Thoma Sliva'' or ''Saint Thomas Cross'', the symbol of the Syro-Malabar Church. ...
in India. Syriac literature is by far the most prodigious of the various Aramaic languages. Its corpus covers poetry, prose, theology, liturgy, hymnody, history, philosophy, science, medicine and natural history. Much of this wealth remains unavailable in critical editions or modern translation. From the 7th century onwards, Syriac gradually gave way to
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...
as the spoken language of much of the region, excepting northern Iraq. The Mongol invasions and conquests of the 13th century, and the religiously motivated massacres of Syriac Christians by Timur further contributed to the rapid decline of the language. In many places outside of Upper Mesopotamia, even in liturgy, it was replaced by Arabic.


Current status

Revivals of literary Syriac in recent times have led to some success with the creation of newspapers in written Syriac ( ') similar to the use of Modern Standard Arabic has been employed since the early decades of the 20th century. Modern forms of literary Syriac has also been used not only in religious literature but also in secular genres, often with Assyrian nationalism, Assyrian nationalistic themes. Syriac is spoken as the liturgical language of the
Syriac Orthodox Church , native_name_lang = syc , image = Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate 2k18.jpg , imagewidth = , alt = Cathedral of Saint George , caption = Cathedral of Saint George, Damascus, Syria ...
, as well as by some of Syriac Orthodox Christians (Middle East), its adherents. Syriac has been recognised as an official minority language in Iraq. It is also taught in some public schools in Iraq, the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, Israel, Sweden, Augsburg (Germany) and Kerala (India). In 2014, an Assyrian preschool, nursery school could finally be opened in Yeşilköy, Istanbul after waging a lawsuit against the Ministry of National Education (Turkey), Ministry of National Education which had denied it permission, but was required to respect non-Muslim minority rights as specified in the Treaty of Lausanne. In August 2016, the Ourhi Centre was founded by the Assyrian community in the city of Qamishli, to educate teachers in order to make Syriac an additional language to be taught in public schools in the Jazira Region of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, which then started with the 2016/17 academic year.


Grammar

Many Syriac words, like those in other Semitic languages, belong to Semitic root#Triconsonantal roots, triconsonantal roots, collations of three Syriac consonants. New words are built from these three consonants with variable vowel and consonant sets. For example, the following words belong to the root ('), to which a basic meaning of ''taking'' can be assigned: * – : "he has taken" * – : "he will take, he was taking, he does take" * – : "take!" * – : "he takes, he is taking" * – : "he has lifted/raised" * – : "he has set out" * – : "a taking, burden, recension, portion or syllable" * – : "takings, profits, taxes" * – : "a beast of burden" * – : "arrogance"


Nouns

Most Syriac nouns are built from triliteral roots. Nouns carry grammatical gender (masculine or feminine), they can be either singular or plural in number (a very few can be dual) and can exist in one of three grammatical states. These states should not be confused with grammatical cases in other languages. * The absolute state is the basic form of the noun – , , "taxes". * The emphatic state usually represents a definite noun – , , "the taxes". * The construct state marks a noun in relationship to another noun – , , "taxes of...". However, very quickly in the development of Classical Syriac, the emphatic state became the ordinary form of the noun, and the absolute and construct states were relegated to certain stock phrases (for example, , , "man, person", literally "son of man"). In Old and early Classical Syriac, most genitive case, genitive noun relationships are built using the construct state, but contrary to the genitive case, it is the head-noun which is marked by the construct state. Thus, , , means "the taxes of the kingdom". Quickly, the construct relationship was abandoned and replaced by the use of the relative particle , '. Thus, the same noun phrase becomes , , where both nouns are in the emphatic state. Very closely related nouns can be drawn into a closer grammatical relationship by the addition of a pronominal suffix. Thus, the phrase can be written as , . In this case, both nouns continue to be in the emphatic state, but the first has the suffix that makes it literally read "her taxes" ("kingdom" is feminine), and thus is "her taxes, [those] of the kingdom". Adjectives always agree in gender and number with the nouns they modify. Adjectives are in the absolute state if they are predicative expression#Predicative (adjectival or nominal), predicative, but agree with the state of their noun if adjective#Attributive adjective, attributive. Thus, , ', means "the taxes are evil", whereas , ', means "evil taxes".


Verbs

Most Syriac verbs are built on triliteral roots as well. Finite verbs carry grammatical person, person, gender (except in the first person) and number, as well as grammatical tense, tense and Grammatical conjugation, conjugation. The non-finite verb forms are the infinitive and the active voice, active and passive voice, passive participles. Syriac has only two true morphology (linguistics), morphological tenses: perfect and imperfect. Whereas these tenses were originally grammatical aspect, aspectual in Aramaic, they have become a truly temporal past tense, past and future tense, future tenses respectively. The present tense is usually marked with the participle followed by the subject (grammar), subject pronoun. However, such pronouns are usually omitted in the case of the third person. This use of the participle to mark the present tense is the most common of a number of ''compound'' tenses that can be used to express varying senses of tense and aspect. Syriac also employs Derived stem, derived verb stems such as are present in other Semitic languages. These are regular modifications of the verb's root to express other changes in meaning. The first stem is the ground state, or ' (this name models the shape of the root) form of the verb, which carries the usual meaning of the word. The next is the intensive stem, or ', form of the verb, which usually carries an Intensive word form, intensified meaning. The third is the extensive stem, or ', form of the verb, which is often causative in meaning. Each of these stems has its parallel passive voice, passive conjugation: the ', ' and ' respectively. To these six cardinal stems are added a few irregular stems, like the ' and ', which generally have an extensive meaning. The basic G-stem or "Peal" conjugation of "to write" in the perfect and imperfect is as follows:Robinson and Coakley, 2013 p.36, p. 60.


Phonology

Phonologically, like the other Northwest Semitic languages, Syriac has 22 consonants. The consonantal phonemes are: Phonetically, there is some variation in the pronunciation of Syriac in its various forms. The various Modern Eastern Aramaic vernaculars have quite different pronunciations, and these sometimes influence how the classical language is pronounced, for example, in public prayer. Classical Syriac has two major streams of pronunciation: western and eastern.


Consonants

Syriac shares with Aramaic a set of lightly-contrasted stop consonant, stop/fricative consonant, fricative pairs. In different variations of a certain lexical root, a root consonant might exist in stop form in one variation and fricative form in another. In the Syriac alphabet, a single letter is used for each pair. Sometimes a dot is placed above the letter (''quššāyā'' "strengthening"; equivalent to a dagesh in Hebrew language, Hebrew) to mark that the stop pronunciation is required, and a dot is placed below the letter (''rukkāḵā'' "softening") to mark that the fricative pronunciation is required. The pairs are: * Voiced labial consonant, labial pair – and * Voiced velar consonant, velar pair – and * Voiced dental consonant, dental pair – and * Voiceless labial consonant, labial pair – and * Voiceless velar pair – and * Voiceless dental pair – and Like some Semitic languages, Syriac too has emphatic consonants, and it has three of them. These are consonants that have a coarticulation in the human pharynx, pharynx or slightly higher. The set consists of: * Pharyngealization, Pharyngealized voiceless dental stop – * Pharyngealized voiceless alveolar fricative – * Voiceless uvular stop – (historically emphatic variant of ) There are two Pharyngeal consonant, pharyngeal fricatives, another class of consonants typically found in Semitic languages. * Voiceless pharyngeal fricative – * Voiced pharyngeal fricative – Syriac also has a rich array of sibilants: * Voiced alveolar fricative – * Voiceless alveolar fricative – * Pharyngealized voiceless alveolar fricative – * Voiceless postalveolar sibilant –


Vowels

As with most Semitic languages, the vowels of Syriac are mostly subordinated to consonants. Especially in the presence of an emphatic consonant, vowels tend to become mid-centralised. Classical Syriac had the following distinguishable vowels: {, , - style="vertical-align: top;" , {, class="wikitable" style="text-align: center;" , + class="nowrap" , Vowel phonemes in Classical Syriac , - ! rowspan="2" , ! rowspan="2" , Front vowel, Front ! colspan="2" , Back vowel, Back , - ! ! , - ! Close vowel, Close , , , , - ! Close-mid vowel, Close-mid , , , , - ! Open-mid vowel, Open-mid , , , , - ! Open vowel, Open , , , In the western dialect, has become , and the original has merged with . In eastern dialects, there is more fluidity in the pronunciation of front vowels, with some speakers distinguishing five qualities of such vowels, and others only distinguishing three. Vowel length is generally not important: close vowels tend to be longer than open vowels. The open vowels form diphthongs with the approximant consonant, approximants and . In almost all dialects, the full sets of possible diphthongs collapses into two or three actual pronunciations: * usually becomes , but the western dialect has * , further, sometimes monophthongized to * usually becomes * , further, sometimes monophthongized to


See also


Notes


References


Sources

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Rudder, Joshua. ''Learn to Write Aramaic: A Step-by-Step Approach to the Historical & Modern Scripts''. n.p.: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2011. 220 pp. Includes the Estrangela (pp. 59–113), Madnhaya (pp. 191–206), and the Western Serto (pp. 173–190) scripts. * * * * * * * * * * * *


External links

*
Syriac traditional pronunciation

Aramaic Dictionary (lexicon and concordance)

Syriac at ScriptSource.com

The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon

Syriac Studies Reference Library
Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University *
Leshono Suryoyo - Die traditionelle Aussprache des Westsyrischen - The traditional pronunciation of Western Syriac
* * {{Authority control Syriac language, Languages attested from the 1st century Aramaic languages Classical languages Endangered Afroasiatic languages Languages of Iraq Languages of Lebanon Languages of Syria Christian liturgical languages Syriac Christianity Semitic languages Languages of Kurdistan